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When the Colonised Become the Coloniser: The Failed Schemes to Settle Irish Peasants in Colonial Algeria

Dates:
  • Mon 17 Feb 2020 10.00 - 13.00
  Add to Calendar 2020-02-17 10:00 2020-02-17 13:00 Europe/Paris When the Colonised Become the Coloniser: The Failed Schemes to Settle Irish Peasants in Colonial Algeria

Joint session of Intellectual History and Migration and Mobility working groups.

In October 1869, a passenger ship set sail from the Co. Cork port of Queenstown (now Cobh) destined for the Algerian port of Bône (now Annaba) with 131 Irish men, women, and children aboard. While the late 19th century had seen a number of projects for Irish settlement in Algeria floated, some more practical than others, the 1869 expedition was the first time Irish migrants had been successfully directed to France’s North African colony. Although the settlement scheme was both short-lived and disastrous for all involved, it tells us a great deal about the intersections between migration, colonialism and the racial hierarchies that underpinned them both.

In this paper, I use the settlement schemes to explore how the different ways in which the coloniality of the Irish and the Algerians was understood and enforced shaped their horizon of possibilities in the age of high imperialism. The enthusiasm of radical Irish nationalists for schemes that perpetrated in Algeria the type of expropriation of land and colonisation toward which they were so hostile at home underlines (yet again) the extent to which hierarchies of race and religion limited their critique of imperialism. These same hierarchies served to make the Irish attractive prospective settlers to the French, who saw them not only as racially and culturally superior to the Algerians but also as a liminal colonial people, well-suited to the gruelling and unrewarding task of building France’s Empire in North Africa. While the scheme’s failure would prove this assessment wrong, its very existence not only underlines the extent to which the perceived coloniality of populations has always shaped attitudes toward migrants but also highlights how inherently colonial ideas about race and religion can limit solidarity among oppressed populations.    

Sala degli Stemmi - Villa Salviati- Castle DD/MM/YYYY
  Sala degli Stemmi - Villa Salviati- Castle

Joint session of Intellectual History and Migration and Mobility working groups.

In October 1869, a passenger ship set sail from the Co. Cork port of Queenstown (now Cobh) destined for the Algerian port of Bône (now Annaba) with 131 Irish men, women, and children aboard. While the late 19th century had seen a number of projects for Irish settlement in Algeria floated, some more practical than others, the 1869 expedition was the first time Irish migrants had been successfully directed to France’s North African colony. Although the settlement scheme was both short-lived and disastrous for all involved, it tells us a great deal about the intersections between migration, colonialism and the racial hierarchies that underpinned them both.

In this paper, I use the settlement schemes to explore how the different ways in which the coloniality of the Irish and the Algerians was understood and enforced shaped their horizon of possibilities in the age of high imperialism. The enthusiasm of radical Irish nationalists for schemes that perpetrated in Algeria the type of expropriation of land and colonisation toward which they were so hostile at home underlines (yet again) the extent to which hierarchies of race and religion limited their critique of imperialism. These same hierarchies served to make the Irish attractive prospective settlers to the French, who saw them not only as racially and culturally superior to the Algerians but also as a liminal colonial people, well-suited to the gruelling and unrewarding task of building France’s Empire in North Africa. While the scheme’s failure would prove this assessment wrong, its very existence not only underlines the extent to which the perceived coloniality of populations has always shaped attitudes toward migrants but also highlights how inherently colonial ideas about race and religion can limit solidarity among oppressed populations.    


Location:
Sala degli Stemmi - Villa Salviati- Castle

Affiliation:
Department of History and Civilization

Type:
Working group

Contact:
Elisavet Papalexopoulou - Send a mail

Speaker:
Donal Hassett (EUI - Department of History and Civilization)

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